ODESSA, Texas — Over the last few weeks, the City of Odessa has been battling with a distemper outbreak in the city shelter.
Canine distemper is a virus that affects a dog's respiratory, gastrointestinal, respiratory, and central nervous systems. This virus is almost always fatal.
"We sicken and saddened that this happened but we're trying to save as many animals as possible", Captain Harvell of the Odessa Police Department said.
When an outbreak happens, some shelters chose to euthanize all animals and deep clean the shelter. Luckily this is not the case in Odessa.
The first case was discovered about two weeks ago and since then animal control has teamed up with Fix West Texas to tackle this issue.
"It's been great that Fix West Texas has stepped up to help us," Captain Harvell said.
Distemper can be prevented by vaccinating your animal.
"It starts in the community if we don't properly vaccinate our animals, animals get caught by animals control or when they've been surrendered, they are bringing that distemper into the animal shelter,", Karen Patterson, President of Fix West Texas said.
The City is doing everything it can to help stop the spread of distemper.
"The biggest thing we're asking now is for people to call the animal shelter here in town and volunteer to foster for a little while. If you fall in love with the dog, you can adopt them later and it won’t cost you anything to help us out during this emergency," Captain Harvell said.
If you can't open your home to a foster pet, there are other options.
"One way our community can really set up and help the city of Odessa during this time is to commit to getting your pets vaccinated", Karen Patterson said.
Fix West Texas also has "Pets in Need Program", which allows vaccinations for free for families who can't afford it.